What was the input or the role of the joint staff and the JCS on this decision? It’s a pretty important one. Did you have any input into this decision?
Excerpts from a February 17, 2004 interview by Michael Gordon of the New York Times at the Council on Foreign Relations, in Washington.
PACE: No, Ambassador Bremer had the authority to make that decision. I do not know what information he got from those in theater, but he had the authority to make that decision. He did. And we then used those resources to recruit them for the new force.
GORDON: Bremer makes the decision, but I guess the question is, what was your advice to him institutionally on that?
PACE: I did not have any—I did not give him advice. I advise the secretary of defense, and I advise the president of the United States when he asks. I’m not an advisor to Mr. Bremer.
GORDON: But what was the position of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on that issue, whether to Mr. Rumsfeld or whomever?
PACE: That issue was not specifically addressed by the Joint Chiefs, brought to the Joint Chiefs. The folks in theater, between Mr. Bremer and—I believe at the time it was still General [Tommy] Franks [Commander, U.S. Central Command, 2001-03]. They worked together as a team over there. And then General Abizaid came over to team up with Mr. Bremer. And that’s the discussion that went on between the people in theater as to what they believed, based on what they saw on the ground was correct. And those of us in Washington did not second-guess those who were on point.
GORDON: So you have no input into that?
PACE: We were not asked for a recommendation or for advice.